NASA astronaut: Russians were ‘blindsided’ by reaction to yellow suits

I posted a while back about the yellow and blue color scheme of the suits worn by Russian cosmonauts who had then just arrived at the International Space Station. This story says all three Russian had gone to a school whose colors are yellow and blue, and that they did not intend the colors to have any political significance. Those suits were likely designed months or even years in advance. So, because I posted something that suggested the opposite, it’s only fair I post this interpretation. In his first public comments since returning to Earth aboard a Russia space craft,…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In March, 2002, I was blogging about…

In March, 2002, I was blogging about The coming era of participatory news The “Worst Manual Contest” Ancient “Domesday Book” outlives electronic version (that article is also gone… but here’s contemporary coverage from Slashdot) My own text-adventure game “Fine-Tuned: An Auto-mated Romance“ PBS special “Merchants of Cool” (early observations about the cultural feedback loop as teens engage with, internalize, and mirror back the images marketers use to sell products) The Gettysburg Address on PowerPoint Star Trek Chaplains? (and religion on Babylon 5) Turn of the Century (the standardization of screws) William Shatner’s Blog

How Russia’s Disinformation Apparatus Ran Aground in Ukraine

Skillful propagandists always leverage people’s pre-conceived notions to steer the conversation away from what is prejudicial to their side’s interests. The tactic works because it often deflects attention towards other injustices that are also real, making it easy to elicit a strong emotional response that blinds the audience to the underlying cynicism. Redfish, for example, was able to exploit genuine resentments over the real mistreatment of black people during the evacuation from Ukraine; or over the EU’s double standards in its treatment of Ukrainian refugees compared to refugees from elsewhere. Few took the time to consider, however, that black people…

Copspeak, “the past exonerative” tense, and punching Nazis

In the Constitution, any suspect is innocent until found guilty by a court, even suspects who kneel for eight minutes on the throat of an unarmed, handcuffed person who is caught on video pleading to breathe, passing out, and dying. If the court hasn’t (yet) ruled that a death is homicide, then it’s not accurate to describe the death as a “murder” or to describe a person who has just been arrested, but not formally charged yet, as a “killer.” Having said that, the “past exonerative voice” is a powerfully descriptive name for how the journalists who are trained to…

What Was the TED Talk?

The title borders on clickbait, but the self-aware irony of the catch-phrase “Thank you for attending my TED talk” does suggest the concept has long ago escaped the lab. “We live in an era where the best way to make a dent on the world… may be simply to stand up and say something.” And yet, TED’s archive is a graveyard of ideas. It is a seemingly endless index of stories about the future — the future of science, the future of the environment, the future of work, the future of love and sex, the future of what it means to…

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Homeward (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 13) Worf’s foster brother interferes with a primitive, dying culture

Rewatching ST:TNG The Enterprise-D answers a distress call from Worf’s foster brother, a civilian observing a primitive civilization on a planet with an atmosphere that’s spontaneously dissipating because reasons. The dissipation is also creating a plot contrivance field that periodically jams key systems so that we can watch characters react to dramatic in-person discoveries of details we would otherwise learn through a scanner readout on the bridge. When the planet surface became uninhabitable, brother Nikolai moved a village of Boraalans into a cave (again with the caves!), and set up a technobabble field to protect them from the bad Space…

How to spot video and photo fakes as Russia invades Ukraine – Poynter

In the first hours of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, internet watchdogs pored over images shared on Russian media that claimed Ukraine struck first and Russia merely responded. The Biden administration has been warning for weeks that, in the days and hours leading up to the invasion of Ukraine that arrived before dawn on Thursday, Russian sources would release “false flag” photos and videos to make it appear that the Ukrainian military attacked Russian forces unprovoked. To understand how these investigators do their work, you should first understand a few basics. Everything created on a digital device — whether it…

War via TikTok: Russia’s new tool for propaganda machine

“This is the way they go to war; it’s a central part of Russian doctrine,” said Jim Ludes, a former U.S. defense analyst who now directs the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University. Ludes said Russian disinformation campaigns are intended to galvanize Russian support while confusing and dividing the country’s opponents. Russia tailors its propaganda message for specific audiences. For Russians and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the message is that Russia is trying to defend its own people against Western-fueled aggression and persecution in Ukraine. Similar tactics have been used, including by Nazi Germany…

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Force of Nature (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 9) A Space Thing leads to an environmental mystery that implicates warp drive technology

Rewatching ST:TNG In which a comic teaser features LaForge’s misadventures with Data’s cat; we join the search for a missing medical transport; and we meet environmentalists with dire warnings about a ubiquitous Federation technology. LaForge is tinkering with the engines, trying to beat the performance stats of an academy frenemy. He and his nerd buddy Data have a meandering scene fiddling casually with the sensors, which have been affected by this week’s Plot Contrivance Particle Field. A disabled Ferengi ship reports being technobabbled by what appeared to be a Federation buoy. Reasoning that the missing medical transport may have been…

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Rightful Heir (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 23) Worf’s quest for the return of a fabled Klingon threatens the Klingon Empire’s status quo

Rewatching ST:TNG Worf is uncharacteristically late for a shift because he was distracted by a ritual to invoke the fabled warrior Kahless. He tells Picard that since meeting the young Klingons who grew up with no knowledge of their heritage (s6e16&17 “Birthright“), he has felt “empty,” and feels the need to test his faith. Picard is simultaneously strict and empathetic, calling Worf’s actions “Inexcusable… and understandable.” He grants him a leave and tells him not to come back until he’s ready to perform his duties properly. In a shrine on the holy planet Boreth, Worf joins a group of Klingons…

In one small prairie town, two warring visions of America

Great writing and great photography in this story about a small Minnesota town where conservative Lutheran pastor Jason Wolter denies that COVID-19 vaccines work. “You’re lying to people,” he says, “You flat-out lie about things.” Wolter is speaking of Reed Anfinson, his next-door neighbor, who is the editor of the Swift County Monitor-News, “[a] contemplative man who casually quotes Voltaire, he loves newspapers deeply, and mourns the hundreds of small-town papers that have gone under in recent years.” “The easy part is speaking truth to power. The hard part is speaking truth to your community,” said Anfinson, whose wife is a…

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The Chase (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 20) Planet-hopping archaeological DNA mystery

Rewatching ST:TNG A well-done mystery that could have, *should* have, redefined our understanding of intelligent life in the Star Trek storytelling universe, but did not. Picard’s beloved archeology professor shows up after 30 years with an invitation to join a mysterious expedition.  I respect that the writers don’t ask us to believe that Picard is seriously tempted by the offer; instead, Picard is worried about having to say no to his mentor (once again). Not too long after he leaves the ship in a huff, Galen sends a distress signal. He’s rescued just in time to utter a last dramatic…

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Dr. Bobby Teaches Ferris Bueller as Rhetor

My former student, Bobby Kuechenmeister, uses Ferris Bueller’s lesson on faking out his parents as an example to teach ethos, logos, and paths.  The last time I checked, most of my undergrads said they would probably recognize a Ferris Beuller reference, but in a class today of 9 only 3 raised their hands when I asked if they knew “The Karate Kid.”

He dedicated years of his life to QAnon. One day made him question it all.

Thoughtful analysis structured around one man’s personal journey away from QAnon. No single online platform is responsible for QAnon’s rapid rise. YouTube hosted the videos that many members credit with their “red pilling,” the favored term for a supposed enlightenment or exposure to conspiracy theories. Facebook allowed for easy conversation, meme sharing and organizing. Twitter, Justin’s favored platform, provided fertile ground for QAnon influencers and their lies. “It was an amplification machine,” said Daniel J. Jones, president of Advance Democracy Inc., a global research organization that studies disinformation and extremism, referring to Twitter. Jones found QAnon followers (identified by the QAnon identifiers in…